Joanne Amos reports on her conference experience as a sponsored student

14 Nov 2017
Member Story

My first thoughts. So, where do I start when I need to provide a report to AIDA on the conference. Then the words start flowing with tears, inspiration and a real passion for what I am currently doing. Not only a journey to becoming a Doctor but also a journey to becoming an Aboriginal Doctor.

I found myself sitting at the conference thinking. In what world does a second-year Aboriginal medical student get taught laparoscopic skills and how to suture by the 2016-2017 president of the Australian College of Surgeons, Dr Philip Truskett? In what world are you practicing suturing whilst listing to the sounds of the Ngangkari singing in the background? In what world do you get to sit and listen to the inspirational words of Stephen Oliver’s poem Real? In what world does a person like me get these wonderful opportunities?

The opportunity I was given to attend this conference was invaluable and something I will cherish forever. Invaluable experiences such as meeting, sitting and talking to some of the “Rock Stars” of the Indigenous Doctors world, such as Dr Helen Milroy and Dr Louis Peachy. It was sad, but also inspiring, to sit and listen to the path and fight that they walked over 20 years ago and the path that I am now walking. That their path paved the way for students like us to follow. Truly inspirational people.

Since the commencement of my degree I have never felt like I belonged, like I did at AIDA. There was so much love at the conference and I felt a spiritual connection. One that I can’t explain, and one that I have never felt before. I have often felt like I shouldn’t be doing what I am doing. That someone is going to tap on my shoulder and say it’s time to move on. To hear that my thoughts, are not that dissimilar to anyone else’s, was reassuring. I have often questioned myself regarding my age. That starting such an intense degree at 40 years of age was ridiculous, and I must be crazy. Looking around the room, I see others who are like me, affirming I am doing the right thing and I belong.

The conference provided reaffirmation of what I am doing with my life, and where I want to be when I finish my degree. I initially thought, I’m 42, I’m getting old, I will be GP. The conference made me realise that there are multiple opportunities available and essentially the sky is the limit. So, in that respect I am more confused than I was before. LOL!

What I have done since my return to University is try to inspire the other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from the University of Newcastle to attend next year’s conference in Perth. I have aligned my clinical placement next year with Dr Sarah-Jane McEwan (a member of AIDA) in Western Australia so that I can attend next year’s conference. I am truly grateful for the funding. I would not have been able to afford such an opportunity.

Thank you, AIDA. I am coming again next year. Try and stop me.

14 Nov 2017